What Comes First: Political Polarization Or Presidential Leadership?
Iím generally skeptical of claims that lack of presidential action is the cause of legislative non-outcomes. In the case of immigration, there was a bipartisan congressional coalition behind reform and the key Republican members of that coalition decided to defect. The president canít perform inception on Mitch McConnell and make him want to do this.
But on this specific issue, I think thereís reason to believe that presidential leadership would actually be counterproductive. [. . . W]hen Presidents insert themselves into legislative debates, that induces partisan polarization. Immigration has always been an issue that scrambles both parties coalitions, and I donít think thatís changed today. A more polarized dynamic is only going to make reform harder to achieve. Of course the president would have a role in pushing a bill over the finish line, but success requires a starting baseline of genuine cooperation on the Hill.
I think that is generally wrong (political polarization happens irrespective of Presidential leadership) and it is clearly wrong with regards to the immigration issue.
The GOP hates Latinos and thus hates immigration period. They hated immigration reform when President Bush proposed it and they hated it when President Obama proposed it. Presidential leadership did not cause political polarization on immigration reform. GOP hatred of Latinos caused the political polarization on the issue.
Speaking for me only
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